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Fixing Your Balanced Scorecard – Part 3

By Robert W. Bradford, President & CEO

Strategic Planning Expert Robert W. Bradford

Strategic Planning Expert
Robert W. Bradford

Continuing the discussion we started in the prior posts, the third main reason why you may be disappointed in your Balanced Scorecard program is fundamental to the limitations of the scorecard itself.

III. Your Balanced Scorecard isn’t driving action

This is most likely true if you are doing Balanced Scorecard instead of true Strategic Planning in your company.  Strategic Planning focuses attention on the things that will make a difference for your company. Balanced scorecard processes tend to rely on employee understanding of the links between measurables and reality – these links rarely motivate employees as well as will understanding the underlying issues. Your CFO or other technical managers may quickly grasp the relationships – but true strategic competency requires broad participation and support from all parts of the company.

Even with excellent training and support throughout the company for Balanced Scorecard, you are likely to have issues if you are not also driving execution through a proven tool for monitoring and accountability on actions (rather than numbers). The action plan process in Simplified Strategic Planning is an excellent approach to doing this. There are several keys to making implementation work. Most important is to have rock solid and unified support for implementation accountability at the top levels of your company.

IV. The change your business needs involves a more fundamental shift in strategy

Simply put, you can’t measure your way out of some strategic issues. To use an analogy, let’s say you are part of a team of jungle explorers, and you are measuring your efficiency. You might look at “miles traveled per day”. Under many circumstances, this might get you where you want to go. But there is no measurement around this that addresses the more fundamental strategic questions – such as “Are we in the right jungle?” and “Should we be in a jungle in the first place?” No matter how well you perform on your measurements, being in the wrong jungle will prevent you from succeeding – and you won’t even ask the right questions if you stay completely focused on any set of metrics.

To sum up – a Balanced Scorecard is a useful tool, quite similar to the “Measures of Performance” we have been teaching since 1981. More importantly, measurement can drive strategically useful behavior, so a Balanced Scorecard program can yield excellent results. But you need to be aware that no one approach can solve all of your business problems, and there is no substitute for a robust, formal Strategic Planning process.

Of course, the best thing to do about getting the strategic change and the results you want is to do good Strategic Planning.

For more ways to take your strategic planning to the next level please listen to our webinar:  Why my strategic planning isn’t working.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at rbradford@cssp.com.
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